It’s Pretty Over at the Wildscape

by Catherine Johnson

There are many plants in full bloom in the Milam Wildscape Project. 

One cool morning Kim Summers and I began preparing the Garden for Nature Days in November.   

Kim is invisible!

We saw many butterflies and the last of hummingbirds for the year. 

Enjoy the pictures or better yet take a ride over to Bird and Bee Farm, conveniently located between Rockdale and Milano, and take home a beautiful bouquet. 

Chapter Members Attend Water Summit

by Donna Lewis
photos by Joyce Conner

On August 18th, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm in Caldwell, Texas, the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District (POSGCD) held an all-day event for those living in Milam and Burleson Counties.

Summit attendees

We were invited to have an informational booth at the Civic Center about the El Camino Real Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, and a booth for the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail.

Quite a crowd!

This event covered many topics including water rights, legislation updates, well monitoring, septic practices, and many other topics. 

Joyce Conner and I set up our booths the day before. Joyce also set up the Trail Association booth next to ours. Both tables looked very professional and had handouts about both organizations. Our tablecloth really looks nice.

Donna Lewis and Scott Berger at the El Camino Real Texas Master Naturalist Chapter booth

Joyce, Scott Berger, and I arrived around 7:00 am. That was a good thing because people started to arrive then. Both our booths had many interested people asking questions and taking brochures with them.  Sandra Dworaczyk arrived soon after. We missed getting her picture with us. Several of our members, including Janice Johnson, attended the talk. Probably more came, but I was too busy to catch them.

Joyce Conner at the El Camino Real de los Tejas booth

Joyce had brochures that showed where the El Camino Real Trail was in our area, which was very interesting to many who lived in our county. No doubt some did not know much about the history of the trail.

The booth team

I think I talked to at least 50 people about our group.  Scott and Sandra were also talking to many people and Joyce jumped in when we needed her. It took the four of us to handle the crowd. Many wished they had a chapter in Burleson County. I informed them that they could attend our talks, but most did not want to come that far at night. Many were interested in daytime events.  I told them to check out our website for those events.  

Checking out our booth

The President of the Lost Pines Master Naturalist Chapter was attending the event and talked to me about our events also.

This was a very successful event for our chapter. I hope we will get some new members because of it.

A good day for Nature.

Mark Your Calendar for Nature Days

by Catherine Johnson

We are gearing up for the second Nature Days event, which will be each weekend in November.  There will be lots of opportunities to get volunteer hours and interact with the public.

Treat yourself and visit the Wildscape now, as the fall flowers are almost ready to bloom.  Email me at cpc69earth AT gmail.com, and I will meet you there to show you some ways to get hours or to get seeds for yourself. 

Now is also a great time to take pictures.  The Monarch and Swallowtail butterfiles have arrived.

Tree Girdling and Photographing

by Carolyn Henderson

Last Saturday morning was a busy one for a small group of El Camino Real Texas Master Naturalists. The intrepid seven started out attending some previously girdled trees and finished by photographing everything they could find for the “Hotter than Hell BioBlitz” at Wilson-Ledbetter Park in Cameron.

Liz Lewis inspects girdled Privet.

Original girdlers of the invasive Glossy Privet Liz Lewis, Marian Buegeler, and I did some follow-up work on the trees we originally performed girdling on back in March. Marian was armed with a hatchet and I had a tree trimmer device to remove any new growth below the girdles. Liz directed.

Marian Buegeler prepares to take hatchet to Privet.

I was surprised to find the trees dying because an inspection a month ago didn’t really show any significant dying off. They are showing plentiful evidence of their demise now. In case you’re new to this subject, tree girdling is a method to kill trees without herbicides or chain saws. You can find directions on how to do it from the March blog if interested. 

Privet dying

The drought and excessive heat may be hastening the death, but it’s all occurring above the girdle line, so the process works. We are now a little excited to see where they stand in late fall. 

The only green grass was close to the water.

We then proceeded to photograph what was still alive in the drought/heat wave at Wilson-Ledbetter. We managed to get 208 photos of nature surviving the weather. “Birdladymilam” Ann Collins posted the most photos on the project page on iNaturalist. Eric Neubuer found the most of one species (Wolf spiders in case you weren’t sure). Organizer Linda Jo Conn, Marian, Victoria St John, Liz and I also contributed. Blooming flowers were sparse, but there were a lot of trees, vines and grasses along with spiders, and birds. 

Pipevine Swallowtail looks for blooms in some very dry grass.

And it wasn’t hot that early in the morning. 

Silver leaf nightshade was one of two blooms I found there.